Fresh off the success of the comic series Choker (which wraps up in January) and with the Big Two taking notice with such assignments as Captain America & The Korvac Saga, writer Ben McCool has been taking the industry by storm – and this new creator-owned series Memoir is just the latest thunderbolt. Partnering with noted independent artist Nikki Cook (DMZ, Girl Comics, Act-I-Vate), the pair are taking comic readers on a tour of a small Western town you'll never forget – unless that is, you live there.
In the quaint Midwestern town of Lowesville where the days bleed into one another, one day the citizens wake up to a new sight: a town they don't remember. Nothing's wrong with the town, though -- it's them; the entire population of Lowesville wakes up with no memory. This modern-day Twilight Zone mystery provokes media crews nationwide to descend on the town, but no one's able to come to the bottom of it – and the town becomes yesterday's news. But one man's dead end is another man's fresh start, and a tenacious reporter comes to town to find the story.
This six-issue series is set to come out from Image beginning January 19th featuring a cover by John Cassaday. For more, we talked with Ben McCool.
Newsarama: For someone coming into this with no knowledge — like some of the residents in this town — what can you tell us about Memoir, Ben?
Ben McCool: In a nutshell, I think of Memoir as a cross between Twin Peaks and the Twilight Zone: dysfunctional small town America with an old school sci-fi/horror twist.
The population of Lowesville, a small midwestern community, one morning awakens with no idea of who they are, where they are, or what's happened. The town's memory has been completely erased. All except for the mind of one man... He remembers everything.
Memoir: What’s this town of Lowesville like? Give us the nickel tour.
McCool: Lowesville, once a small farming community is now inundated with fear, confusion and deep paranoia — cheerful it ain't.Located many miles from the nearest hint of civilization, the surrounding area is sparse and unwelcoming. Thick forest surrounds one half of the town, unkempt farmland the other. The town's streets, quiet and gloomy, are lined with closed businesses and ramshackle homes, offering only glimpses of how life used to be.
Put simply, it's hardly a choice spot for a weekend vacation. Unless, that is, you're Trent MacGowan, a journalist looking to exploit the town and its secrets for personal gain...
Nrama: What has it been like for a Lowesville resident after you wake up forgetting it all?
McCool: Residents have taken it in very different ways. Some feel empty and totally dejected; why is life worth living now that everything you ever knew is gone? Others see this as a new opportunity — a fresh shot at life with a completely clean slate. And then there are the in-betweeners; those still trying to come to terms to what's happened to them. Who were they? Who are they now? And will they ever be able to sustain a "normal" life again?
Nrama: When the book opens we’re three years past the initial incident, and media coverage has come and gone with no real answers; that’s where reporter Trent MacGowan sees his chance. What’s he coming in for?
McCool: Despite Trent's claims that he's heading to Lowesville to show the world how this small town has recuperated over the past few years, his actual agenda is very clear: exploitation. The hungry young journalist sees this as the perfect opportunity to project himself to the next level, and he's willing to do anything it takes to get there. Even if it involves breaking a few rules... Or breaching people's trust.
Thing is, Trent's in for a very unpleasant surprise. Once he starts digging a little deeper into Lowesville's surreptitious past, some very bad things start to happen... And his priority soon turns into a twisted game of survival.
Nrama: What does Trent do when he first touches down in Lowesville to get a lay of the land?
McCool: First up, it's Trent's job to find people willing to discuss the bewildering life they've endured for the past few years. But this isn't going to be as straightforward as he thinks...
Nrama: And how do the residents take to MacGowan?
McCool: For the most part, not very well at all! The residents are understandably dubious of outsiders; they barely trust each other, let alone those unfamiliar to them. But there's one man who wants nothing more than to talk to Trent. And boy, does he have a story to tell...
Nrama: Speaking of stories to tell, how does something like Memoir come to you, Ben?
McCool: Late night cheese-based snacks, Jameson whiskey, oddball foreign cinema... It all helps! But seriously, I'm a compulsive daydreamer and often pose myself "what if...?"-type questions. I was on the subway one day and started to think of how a town suddenly bereft of memory could survive. What would its residents do? Where would they go for help? And who could be behind such a diabolical dilemma? And from there Memoir almost started to write itself!
Nrama: What’s your background like and how would it relate to the small town of Lowesville?
McCool: I'm from Birmingham, England's second-largest city. Though it's a far cry from the colossus that is New York City (my current home) it's still a decent-sized place. Lowesville by contrast is small — population around 1000. And though I've not got too much experience of the Midwest, the book's artist, Nikki Cook, grew up there, and she's been able to offer me some valuable advice in building a plausible yet sufficiently outlandish backdrop for the tale.
Nrama: And finally Ben, what would you do if you woke up with no memory of your past at all?
McCool: Well, for starters, I wouldn't have to think so much about that night I spent locked in a nightclub bathroom. What an experience that was...
Despite having (most of) my memory intact, I still for the life of me can't remember how I managed to get myself locked in there. I'm sure being 18 years old and in the midst of an all-night-long student happy hour had something to do with it!